A Closer Look at the Kaepernick Effect

Alpha Bah, staff writer

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Quick question, do you know why some players in the NFL are taking a knee during the national anthem? Perhaps you do know why these athletes are not standing for the anthem, but for if you are like many others, the reason has become clouded.

Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick started taking a knee during the 2016 pre-season when he was playing for the San Francisco Forty-Niners. Kaepernick, according to SB Nation, “started protesting police brutality and the inequality that people of color in the United States face.”

At the time, the country faced conflict because of police brutality in various parts of the nation, and many minorities began to speak out because they felt they were treated wrongly by police. Incidents between police and young black men which turned deadly were the crux of Kaepernick’s protest. From Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri to Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to Philando Castille in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, the examples of violence against young black men were palpable.
While many people in the country – especially friends and family of these young men – protested and spoke out about the violence, Kaepernick took it upon himself to not stand for the national anthem as his form of protest.

Kaepernick’s act of protest became an immediate media topic. At once, news articles and posts reacted to Kaepernick’s actions. Much of that media coverage was negative. As a result of his act of protest, more and more people began to criticize his playing ability. In fact, his protest may be the main reason why he is still not currently signed to a team.

Statistically, Kaepernick should be employed. His stats for the 2016-17 season, according to Joe Giglio of New Jersey.com, show a player who was still playing at a high level. Giglio reports that Kaepernick “posted a 16-to-4 touchdown to interception ratio last season for an awful San Francisco team.”

Kaepernick’s initial protest topic has all but been lost and has morphed into a debate about whether or not the players who do not stand for the national anthem are anti-American. The purpose of taking a knee was to make a statement about an injustice in the nation, but it somehow got misinterpreted. Those who see the football players as anti-American need to see just how contradictory that is to American values. In America you have the right to share your public opinion, to speak out against something you feel is wrong, yet these players are ridiculed or, in Kaepernick’s case, exiled for it.

Protesting the National Anthem by sitting or kneeling should not be such a big deal and people need to stop putting such emphasis on the issue when there are so many more important issues that face our nation. The bottom line is, as Americans, these athletes have the right to freedom of speech and they are expressing that freedom by protesting during the National Anthem.

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A Closer Look at the Kaepernick Effect